Deciding between Marvin, Pella, Anderson, and Lincoln

juddgirl2January 13, 2007

We are adding a small addition to our home, and at the same time will be replacing all 11 window openings and the 3 sliding doors with new construction clad wood doors and casement/awning windows. After endlessly researching window manufacturers and the options available to each, I think I am even more confused than when I started! I did read each and every post on these forums regarding windows, and now would appreciate some specific advice/input.

We are looking at Marvin Ultimate aluminum clad, Pella Architectual, Anderson 400 Woodright (vinyl clad), and plan on getting a quote for Lincoln aluminum clad and possibly also Sierra Pacific. Cost is definitely a factor in decision, as we had an unrealistic budget for windows when we first embarked on this project. We were initially guesstimating cost based on replacement vinyl windows. Of course, after researching and looking at windows, we now do not want to settle for less than all wood with aluminum or vinyl clad for our project!

We have received quotes for Marvin (27k), Anderson (23k), and Pella (37-45k, depending on additional options such as shades and hardware). All quotes include install, and are basically for the same window size and grill options, except for Anderson - which didn't have sizes to accomodate our existing openings so adjustments had to be made (which we're not thrilled about).

I was disappointed with the Anderson quote, because the dealers I have consulted (who sold all three) all said Anderson and Lincoln would both offer significant cost savings over Marvin. However, Marvin's standard sizes fit our needs, whereas Anderson windows would require significant labor costs for cut-downs and fills, and this reduced the cost savings.

Since all of the windows replacements are outside the scope of our home addition, we were planning on going through a contractor who specializes in windows, rather than using our general building contractor(we don't want framers installing the windows). However, our contractor recommends Pella and says he can offer us significant savings through his contact. For reasons based on cost, quality, warranty issues, etc., however, I think I prefer choosing one of the other manufacturers.

So - my first question is for input as to whether the 4k price difference between Marvin and Anderson justify using Anderson, which offers fewer exterior color choices and also requires us to narrow (but make taller) some of our existing window openings? I know this is more of a subjective decision, but quality may be a factor also in looking at the cost difference.

My second question is, does anyone have any advice as to Lincoln or Sierra Pacific windows? There's a not a lot of input regarding these windows on the forums. One dealer said the cost of Lincoln is comparable to Anderson, so providing they have more standard sizes available like Marvin does, I'm hoping the quote will come in lower Anderson for our project. Both Lincoln and Sierra Pacific also have several attractive exterior colors available to choose from, which we are interested in for our rustic ranch home. However, we do not want to sacrifice quality in making this decision.

Thank you for any input or advice you may have.

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calbay03

Andersen is a good quality product, so is Marvin. We have lived with Andersens (long ago) and Marvin (only 3 years). Family and friends have had Marvins (8-yrs, 4-yrs) and Andersen (10+ yrs, 2-yrs). Some are all wood, the newer ones have cladding. All these windows have worked perfectly so far. So Andersen and Marvin make sound quality product.

We picked Marvin 3 years ago because we prefer its woodwork details and extensive use of solid wood pieces for staining. We also needed custom work that Marvin could do easily. If Marvin was unavailable, Andersen would have been our choice.

We have no experience with Andersen's service but Marvin had to help with a family friend's massive multi-million remodeling installation 4 years ago. Their rep came out on time after one call, stayed for several days to work through issues with architect and contractor, no hassle, no arguments, very impressive service.

We looked at Pella three years ago but its woodwork did not impress for the price. Pella may have changed since then, we do not know.

If you end up with Andersen and need to change height of your wall opening, make sure you use a GC and not a window "installer". The GC will understand requirements of load-bearing wall and correctly maintain structural integrity of the house without using the window frames as structural support. I am not confident a window "installer" will know or do this right for you. In our case, we had serveral enlargement that required giant thick pieces of tree-tunk like "header" over top of the rough opening to provide structural support. They were needed to maintain structural integrity of the house around the opening. A window or door by itself should never be load bearing.

We had a window shop "installer" came out and when asked, said nothing about the solid structural header. We obviously did not use his shop.

It is always fun when you are about to make the decision, enjoy the moment!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2007 at 1:41PM
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otmsheffield

Our experience with Pella was quite bad. It seems that the local distributor is entirely independent of Pella's corporate oversite and if the local folks fail to perform, there's no help to be had from Pella HQ. In addition, Pella clearly suffered from poor quality control at the time we used them, as between four and five dozen blinds had to be replaced (some windows were changed three or four times.) Those windows were one of the biggest reasons I was happy to leave that house. However, some folks love Pella and have terrific local dealers who really know what they're doing, so YMMV.

Our new house (builder spec, not custom built for us), has Lincoln windows. We're waiting on replacement of at least four, and repairs on others. The replacements were supposedly ordered about six weeks ago and have yet to arrive. I'm not impressed with their local guys, either. To be fair, I'd estimate that at least half of the problems with these windows were caused by improper installation rather than by poor QC in the factory.

In prior homes, we've found that local window companies could provide a quality window at a lower cost than the big guys. They were also more responsive to any service needs. You might consider asking around to see if there are any local window companies with excellent reputations that could bid on your house.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 7:55AM
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juddgirl2

Thank you for the comments.

calbay - we probably won't go with Anderson if we have to significantly change our window sizes, but we weren't planning on changing the header. To his credit, the window company rep that gave us the quote did say that we would have to change the header to make the windows taller, so the changes would be to make the window narrower and longer by extending the bottom. Also, I agree that Marvin makes a beautiful window and door and if this were our "forever" home I would have no question regarding spending the extra money for them.

otmsheffield - my biggest worry is a bad install. Other than that, are you happy with the way the Lincoln windows look and operate? I plan on getting my Lincoln quote by tomorrow, and really like that they have many colors available. The dealer (who is also giving me a quote on Marvin) spoke very highly of them and of the company standing behind the warranty.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 4:46PM
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otmsheffield

My initial impression of our Lincoln casements was positive and our RE agent certainly raved about them. The few double hungs are defective, although that could be due to installer error on two of them. It turned out that most of the casements do not close easily, which may be because the builder failed to have them properly painted (IMHO) immediately after installation and they were left open, exposing some raw wood to the elements, allowing the wood to warp. I am still waiting for the replacement windows and parts, but have heard that the installer may come next week. Once these repairs & replacements are done, we'll see what Lincoln says about the remaining warranty.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2007 at 6:14PM
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mike35

Andersen's Woodwright double hungs can be ordered in custom sizes. You can customize size, width and height, in 1/8" increments. The units are priced by united inch, so there is no big upcharge for custom sizes. Have the dealer/contractor price out the windows using your sizes.
It should reduce your cost.
Otherwise, the other brands are all good quality, so long as they are installed and maintained properly. You will always hear horror stories regarding every manufacturer. I recommend you request samples to examine, a showroom for viewing, and referrals for local projects using each of the brands. From there, just pick the one you like best, with the best options your budget will allow.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 11:43PM
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juddgirl2

Thank you for the information on Anderson's sizes, mike35. We did recently receive a quote for Lincoln, which came in quite a bit lower than Marvin ($3,000 less without upgrades like hardware), and it has many exterior colors to choose from. I'm sure it doesn't have the name recognition of Anderson or Marvin, but the dealer assured me that all 3 are good products.

We're probably going to go with Lincoln because of the color choices, unless our designer thinks one of Anderson's standard colors would work with our design. Then I'm back to square one!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 12:20AM
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johannac

we have both lincoln and marvin windows in our home. we used lincoln exclusively for one very large picture window (non-operable) and for exterior french doors because marvin's were so expensive (i think we saved $5k on four doors and the one window.). otherwise, all double-hungs and casements are marvin for one simple reason: aesthetics.

the marvin windows are far better looking frame-wise and have the hidden lift mechanism. our windows are all painted white on the interior, so you don't notice the lift mechanism at all. plus, that allowed us to use the standard (white) sash lock. because the marvins near the lincolns don't have any divided lights and the lincolns are doors or non-operable, you don't notice they're different.

on another note, our humidifier is currently set too high, so we have a lot of condensation on the windows/doors. the lincolns are A LOT wetter, which means colder, which I'm assuming means less well insulated.

also... one of our marvins cracked shortly after we moved in and was immediately replaced by them. and... my SO is an architect, so we get 5% off marvin for our own home. i mention that for two reasons: we would have used them anyway and marvin was gracious enough to extend the filing deadline for the rebate when our rep failed to turn it in on time. they're a nice company.

finally, we are about to build a guest house. we're going marvin on the main floor and lincoln in the basement.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 2:07PM
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laura_d_burns_hotmail_com

Lincoln windows suck. We have them, and after we were just beyond our warraty period, seals are broken on over 50% of the windows in our house. There is condensation between the panes, and ice on the inside of the house on their windows. Buyer beware!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 5:58PM
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Stvnbljskx_gmail_com

I have Lincoln, which are crap. 15 yr old now. All 15 windows now need replacement due to mold & rotting. They always have had and continue to have extreme condensation when get to 32 degrees above zero!!!! I do not have a humidity problem. And I'm not got to try get the humidity below 10% (desert levels) to stop the condensation. Window freeze shut in winter creating a hazard, would be unable to open them to get out if I had a fire. I'd have to wait for the fire to melt the 1 inch thick ice dams on the upstairs windows. What a crappy design. Glass conducts cold, then they have basically have cellophane thickness, double face tape, (again no insulating properties) then the aluminium spacer which again conducts the cold, then the other thin tape, then the inside glass. So it's a design of intention to conduct the cold from ontside, to the inside of the house, especially all 4 sides of the window. Where did the so called designers of their windows go to school? Some 3rd wold country obviously , or no school at all! Lincoln windows are just 1 step up from a screen window.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 4:55PM
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Stvnbljskx_gmail_com

I have Lincoln, which are crap. 15 yr old now. All 15 windows now need replacement due to mold & rotting. They always have had and continue to have extreme condensation when get to 32 degrees above zero!!!! I do not have a humidity problem. And I'm not got to try get the humidity below 10% (desert levels) to stop the condensation. Window freeze shut in winter creating a hazard, would be unable to open them to get out if I had a fire. I'd have to wait for the fire to melt the 1 inch thick ice dams on the upstairs windows. What a crappy design. Glass conducts cold, then they have basically have cellophane thickness, double face tape, (again no insulating properties) then the aluminium spacer which again conducts the cold, then the other thin tape, then the inside glass. So it's a design of intention to conduct the cold from ontside, to the inside of the house, especially all 4 sides of the window. Where did the so called designers of their windows go to school? Some 3rd wold country obviously , or no school at all! Lincoln windows are just 1 step up from a screen window.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 5:00PM
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skialta65

I have Lincoln windows (casement and double hung) that I had installed 8 years ago in my lake house and do not have any problem with them at all. Contractors raved about the easy installation and they still work great and look great today. In my other home we have a mish mosh of what previous owners had installed -- mostly Pella and Andersen and I have to say they both are performing horribly. Seal issues, warping issues, you name it...

The most important thing when getting new windows is having them PROPERLY installed... There are so many hacks out there that simply do not care about their work and just do not do it right... Make sure that you really know who is installing as that is almost more important than the brand of window.

    Bookmark   19 hours ago
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millworkman

Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

    Bookmark   18 hours ago
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PRO
Old House Guy LLC

Hopefully you don't have an old house. One thing you need to be aware of with new windows is how the design will affect your curb appeal. My client purchased Anderson 400 and this created a major problem with color placement and getting the right look on the house. Here is some info. http://www.oldhouseguy.com/painting-windows/

    Bookmark   17 hours ago
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